Maroon 5 ‘Overexposed' (A&M/Octone)
Once a real live band whose humanity, however glossy it might have been, could be verified by its mostly organic sound, Maroon 5 now appears to have converted into a silicone simulacrum of its former self with “Overexposed,” a collection of faceless android pop guaranteed to sound exactly like all the songs sequenced around it on Top 40 radio.
Maroon 5 was never big on personality but boasted a skilled lead singer — in real life, Adam Levine has an elastic voice that, in the proper context (Kanye West's “Heard 'Em Say,” for instance), can verge on actual soulfulness. But in the interest of making fail-safe commercial music, Levine is now Auto-Tuning the life out of himself.
Technological embrace and personality are not mutually exclusive: binary-generated music can be magical in the proper robotic hands. But perhaps because Maroon 5 operated as such a sterile embodiment of post-Matchbox Twenty pop-rock ideals for most of the decade following 2002's “Songs About Jane,” the synthetic regeneration on “Overexposed” easily oppresses and effectively terminates the musicians' human traits. The comparatively relaxed opener, “One More Night,” passes for the set's high note but has more in common with the rubber reggae of Ace of Base than it does Bob Marley. With that out of the way, “Overexposed” dips into the plastic-pop with “Payphone” and stays there. Actual guitar from James Valentine opens “Lucky Strike,” a track co-written by Tulsa native pop whiz Ryan Tedder, but the machines rise against the puny drums and wires and smite them soundly.